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Greek coalition leaders' talks on fresh debt deal drag to Wednesday

(Xinhua)

09:36, February 08, 2012

ATHENS, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- Greek coalition party leaders' talks with interim Prime Minister Lucas Papademos to finalize a deal with international creditors on a second aid package to stave off a catastrophic bankruptcy next month drag on to Wednesday, local media reported on Tuesday.

The final terms of an agreement on new austerity policies that will unlock the vital rescue loans package were still being hammered out on late Tuesday in talks between government officials and European Union (EU)/International Monetary Fund (IMF) representatives in Athens.

A blueprint of a deal emerged, after an initial meeting on Sunday evening of the leaders of the three parties backing the transitional administration.

It includes pledges for further spending cuts by 1.5 percent GDP which amounts to 3.3 billion euros (4.37 billion U.S. dollars) in 2012, reduction in wages and pensions in the private sector and dismissals of 15,000 civil servants by 2013.

A second meeting has been pushed back several times since then, as sticking points in details seem to remain open.

During Wednesday's meeting with Papademos, the leaders are expected to give a clear response to lenders' conditions in exchange for further aid.

Creditors push for a deal this week, so that there will be enough time for the ratification process and the release of funds in time, as Greece faces a 14.5-billion-euro (19.19 billion dollars) debt repayment comes due on March 20. Without the aid, Greece could collapse, triggering instability across the eurozone.

But, at the same time Greek leaders face mounting pressure from citizens, who struggle with heavy recession over the past two years, and labor unions, which staged a 24-hour general strike on Tuesday, warning with more to follow.

Under an over 360-billion-euro (476.49 billion dollars) debt load, Greece depends on rescue loans from the EU and the IMF since May 2010 to overcome the crisis.

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